the smuggler’s bible

the nineclaw

When he’s sure that the worst is over and she’s safe, only then does the nineclaw go back. He gathers up the sword, still lying exactly where it fell, and wraps it in thick burlap. The troll is just a heap of rocks. Soon it won’t even be that.

There’s a shift as he turns to leave—a cloud passing in front of the sun, the forest suddenly still—and he snarls, hackles raised.

“She used to be quicker,” Vortigern says, stepping out of the shadow of a pale beech tree. “I hope, at least, she understands the situation now.”